Eight Mississippi...Nine Mississippi....Ten Mississippi....Ready or not, here I come!
I’m crouched in the dark in the bathroom cabinet, my neck craned around the sink basin, my knees crushed against the pipe. I hear my brother’s footsteps enter the bathroom. My pulse quickens. He opens the linen closet. Rustles the shower curtain. I try to breathe as quietly as I can. He exits. When I hear his footsteps disappear down the hall, I pop out like a jack in the box and run to the bunk bed. Home base. I’m safe.
In yoga (and in many meditation practices) we use a home base, a place to which we return to find safety. The three “anchors” in the Vipassana meditation practice are the breath, the sensations in the body, and the sounds around us. These anchors help us to find the present moment by getting us out of the thinking mind and back into the body. We can follow the flow of the breath, or feel our seat on the chair (or the floor), or we can truly listen to the sound of the birds chirping, the fan humming, the cat shifting on the rug.
But most of the time, we are elsewhere, anxiously hiding, waiting to be found out. Can you relate? The mind is always off somewhere else. My mind is usually replaying (and picking apart) the events of the past, or it’s planning for the future. Trying to undo previous catastrophes or prevent future disasters. Even when I don’t feel anxious or worried, my mind is full of thoughts that take me away from home base.
There is nothing inherently wrong with thinking, and in fact, it’s crucial that we think sometimes. Otherwise how would the groceries get bought, or the novel get written, or the difficult conversation be had. But if we have any agency at all--and I believe we do-- wouldn’t you rather be in the present moment, rather than oscillating back and forth between the past and the future?
So this then, is the practice. Coming back to the breath over and over again. Noticing when the mind wanders away, and without judgement, coming back to the breath. Coming back to safety. Coming back to home base, where there is no worry or anxiety. There is only this moment, and then this one, and then this one.
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